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NonCOMM Recap: Hurray for the Riff Raff delivers a powerful, thought-provoking set

Hurray for the Riff Raff | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Drawing on a powerful set of songs from their new record The NavigatorHurray for the Riff Raff used its performance at the 17th annual NonCOMM-vention to make the crowd dance, to make it think and to make it feel.

Frontwoman Alynda Lee Segarra is a dynamic and charismatic force onstage, strumming her guitar to the twangy folk of opener “Life to Save,” then putting the instrument down, taking the the mic in her hand and getting her swagger on for the driving and shimmering dreampop of “Hungry Ghost.”

The songs were stylish and had tremendous energy, but also took on serious topics like gentrification and discrimination. “This next song is an immigrant song” said Seharra, introducing the slick groove of “Rican Beach.” Its lyrics were unflinching: “And they stole our neighbors, and they stole our streets /and they left us to die on the Rican Beach. You can take my life but don’t take my home.” Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Ron Gallo rocks the socks off of day two

Ron Gallo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

I should have known that Ron Gallo‘s set was going to be quite something when he walked out in a jumpsuit. Little did I know what shenanigan-filled jams would ensue from there on out.

This was my first time seeing the brilliance that is Ron Gallo live, and holy cannoli, it did not disappoint one bit. Starting the set off by carefully unfolding a piece of paper, Gallo prepared the crowd for his dry humor by meticulously reading and annunciating each and every word — thanking “Radio Shack employees” for being so supportive of them throughout the years.

Cannon-balling headfirst into their first tune (and one of my absolute favorite jams of the moment,) “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me,” Gallo and crew gave every ounce of themselves into the performance, in which they performed tracks of their new album, Heavy Meta. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Downbeat surfer vibes flood Real Estate’s set

Real Estate | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

“Hope everyone’s doing okay out there out in noncommercial radio land,” Real Estate bassist, Alex Bleeker offered out to the packed upstairs crowd.

And radio land was definitely doing okay. Much more than okay, thanks to Real Estate’s infectious, upbeat set, where the easy-going four-piece treated radio land goers to new tracks off their recently released album, In Mind. Which the tongue-in-cheek band more than a few times said was already certified platinum, in a jokingly forced-nonchalant tone. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM recap: Laura Marling delivers soothing, soulful performance

Laura goshdang Marling.

If I had one tiny bit of an even an ounce of her vocal talent, I’d be one happy soul. Or her songwriting skills, I’d take that too. Or her complete coolness would be nice also. Basically, what I’m saying is that I think I want to be Laura Marling.

Sadly, that cannot happen. But, seeing her perform live is a close second. After a hearty introduction from Bob Boilen, Marling and crew swan-dived right into debut single, “Soothing,” off of her latest album, Semper Femina. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Baskery weaves intricate dreamscapes on the PRX stage

Baskery | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Stockholm sisters Greta, Stella and Sunniva Bondesson make up Baskery, an eclectic trio that played a varied and high-energy set on the PRX Stage of NonCOMM Thursday night. The band crafted atmospheric, vibrant dreamscapes with a pick-up instrumental style — Greta alone rocked banjo, drums, guitar and harmonica — and their music recalled Tori Amos one moment, The Roches the next and Yeah Yeah Yeahs the next. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Bash & Pop take it all the way

Bash & Pop | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

With matching pinstripe suits, and a band name chosen during a radio station contest, it might be easy to gloss over Bash & Pop as a gimmick act. But watching legendary rocker Tommy Stinson — of Replacements and Guns ‘n’ Roses fame — command the stage during their all-too-brief NonComm set proved that the sum can be much, much greater than the sum of its parts. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: The Districts never let us down

The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

The end of The Districts newest single “Ordinary Day” rings out with an echoing chorus that includes the line “I’ll let you down again” – more than a little bit ironic, then, that they seem to be just absolutely incapable of letting down a live audience.

As just the third act of 2017’s NonCOMM, there’s still plenty of ground left to cover in the week, and plenty of yet-to-be seen sets and surprises along the way. But The Districts came out swinging, and set quite a high bar for the rest of the week’s performers. With a set filled with material from their upcoming summer release Popular Manipulations, it’s easy to think that the audience might have gotten restless without anything to sing along to, but the case was anything but. New bangers like “Point,” “Salt,” and the absolutely incredible “Violet” (frontman Rob Grote’s favorite track off the new record) rang true and found their mark in the packed upstairs house. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: The National Reserve get things going with southern rock jams

The National Reserve | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

It’s about 90 degrees in Philadelphia this evening and while it’s not too humid outside, the upstairs room at World Cafe Live is feeling a little sticky. It kind of sets the scene for The National Reserve though, a band from Brooklyn that opened the 17th annual NonCOMMvention with a set of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll straight from the steamy streets of the South.

Continue reading →